CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union has given notice of their intent to strike beginning on Dec. 2, according to an update from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights District.
“We’re fighting for a fair contract because we know that the alternative -- lowering standards for teachers and staff -- will increase turnover and drive experienced, skilled educators out of our school district,” said CHTU President Karen Rego.
In a statement, the district said, “the move to strike is unfortunate given our good faith efforts to negotiate a fair and fiscally responsible contract with the union.”
The district added that it’s facing a fiscal crisis created by factors outside of its control, including EdChoice vouchers and the State of Ohio’s decision to cut funding.
CHTU represents around 500 teachers, counselors, nurses and other employees in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.
The union says the district’s board of education has “imposed contract terms that slash compensation by dramatically increasing costs on healthcare and eliminating a 1% retirement contribution which was negotiated in a previous contract in lieu of a raise.”
“Our schools are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 and remote learning,” said CHTU 2nd Vice-President Tamar Gray. “Teachers and staff have been working harder than ever and rising to meet these challenges. But at the same time, our district’s Board has been fighting to push us backward on wages and benefits. We can’t continue to do more with less.”
The district said it faces an $8 million deficit in Fiscal Year 2023 unless systematic cost savings are made in the interim.
“These are extraordinary times that call for meaningful collaboration from all. We have met with the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union for more than 60 hours since the start of summer to reach an acceptable contract," the district said. "Our final offer is fair, equitable, and competitive and continues to provide all our union members with competitive compensation and health benefits. In response to the final offer, the Union proposed an offer that would still cost the District nearly $1 million a year. That proposal, which only exacerbates the District’s grim financial reality, was rejected.”
Read the full letter here.
Read a statement from the CHTU here.